When I saw the tabloid headlines about the outrage caused by casting a black actor to play the role of Mannerheim, a national hero, I thought the tabloids were only trying to stir up a fuss and that they would never succeed in it. It’s 2012! Who cares about the colour of the actor, right?
Wrong, as it turns out. Once again I was too optimistic about the state of the world, what with spending most of my time with over-civilised, over-educated people who were apparently born with their minds wide open to the world. I only had to log on facebook, and the truth hit me. Even though I mostly come into contact with university educated folks on a daily basis, I keep in touch with non-educated old childhood friends and relatives. Many of them are my facebook friends, so occasionally I get glimpses of what “common people” think.
They think casting a black man to play Mannerheim is unthinkable. Everyone knows Mannerheim was white, duh! They think the film makers should be sued… for what, they’re not quite sure, but they should definitely be sued! One guy said watching the trailer of the film was like having his eyes stabbed.
Come on, people, what’s the problem here? If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the film is set in Kenya. There have been plenty of films and novels about the life of Mannerheim, and now film makers are trying to find a new spin to an old story by changing the time and the place of the events. It’s a fictional film, not a documentary. It’s set in Kenya. I don’t know about you but I think it would be even stranger if the leading role was played by a Finnish actor, seeing as the character is meant to be a Kenyan war hero who lives in Kenya.
I’m not completely naïve and I don’t quite believe the film makers are honestly just looking for a novel approach. They must have known that this would create a bit of a controversy, giving the film extra publicity… unless they really were as naïve as I was, thinking that it’s 2012 and people will care about the story rather than the hue of the actor’s skin. Whether the film makers were purposefully trying to create outrage or not, it’s pretty embarrassing for Finns that there was outrage.
If someone had wanted to tell the story of Martin Luther King in a Scandinavian setting, imagining that such a character was born in Finland, with a Finnish man playing the leading role… I wonder if there would have been such a shit storm?
- Black and white Marshal Mannerheim (migranttales.net)